Managing Plant Growth:
To ensure optimal growth, your seedlings require specific conditions. Keep the temperature around 65°F (18°C) and provide gentle air circulation and ample light. Research has shown that lowering the night-time temperature of seedlings to 55-60°F and lightly brushing your hands over the tops of the seedlings for a couple of minutes each day can contribute to stronger plant development.
Once your seedlings develop their first true leaves, it’s time to transplant them into larger containers. Repotting benefits the seedlings by promoting the development of a robust root system. When repotting, you can bury the seedlings deeper in their new containers to reduce their height. This extra depth beneath the soil will encourage additional root growth.
Before Transplanting, Harden Off Your Tomato Plants:
To minimize the risk of shock from transplanting, it’s important to gradually acclimate your seedlings to outdoor conditions. This process, known as “hardening off,” should take place over approximately two weeks before planting them in the garden. Begin by exposing the seedlings to the outdoor elements for 1 to 2 hours each day, gradually increasing the duration until they can be left outside day and night.
During the hardening-off period, avoid placing the plants in full sun and protect them from strong winds. If the temperature drops below 40°F (4°C), bring the plants back indoors until it warms up a bit.
Once the transplants have been successfully hardened off, you can proceed to replant them in their final outdoor growing locations, whether it’s in the garden or in large pots.